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Darkness, Flooded in Light

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”What will his name be, Mother?” Loki asks, seated contentedly at his mother’s feet. They are in her workroom, just the two of them; Loki is home from one of his many travels, and Frigga has turned away from her loom to show him welcome. The room is still and peacefully quiet; while Loki has always loved the bustle and hum of his mother’s work he enjoys these moments with her just as much.

“He will be Balder,” Frigga says, one hand against her stomach. “Are you looking forward to being an elder brother, Loki?”

Loki smiles. “Very much. I will bring him wondrous artifacts from my journeys and teach him all he needs to know about the world. Can you feel him growing inside you?”

Frigga smiles. “He grows too slowly for me to notice, but I do feel him when he moves.”

Loki’s eyes widen. “Really? Can you feel what kind of a child he will be?”

Frigga considers this. “It is always difficult to say. When I was carrying Thor it was wartime and I spent much of my time armed and vigilant, and he has now grown into a promising warrior. With Balder I have found I spend much of my time in silence, appreciating the day’s light. I think he will be a calm child.”

“What about when you carried me?” Loki asks.

Frigga smiles reminiscently. “When you were small I spent a great deal of time reading. I wished to know all about those things in other realms the Aesir do not find curious.”

Loki smiles back. He has most certainly inherited his mother’s interest in unusual things; where Thor spends his time adventuring with friends and coming home to tell tales of mighty battles and daring escapes, Loki prefers to travel alone. He often disappears for long stretches of time, only returning when he has discovered some wondrous piece of knowledge or brought back a new curiosity for Asgard’s libraries. Thor finds his interests dull and more than a little embarrassing, but Frigga and Odin both support him.

“A good ruler must be wise and learned as well as strong, Thor,” the Allfather says, resting his broad hand on Loki’s shoulder. “Your brother’s knowledge will be of great help to all of us someday.”

“Will you be in Asgard for long, Loki?” Frigga asks, breaking his reverie.

“I will stay until Balder is born, Mother,” Loki promises. “I would not miss his arrival for all the wonders in all the realms.”

Frigga smiles, content. “It will be good to have you close at hand, my son. Now, I must finish this before Balder’s birth - I will see you at dinner.”

Loki bids his mother farewell and returns to his room. Once inside, he draws the heavy drapes and makes sure the door is firmly latched. When he is certain that his privacy is assured, he closes his eyes and concentrates fiercely.

When he opens them, he has changed. Gone is the narrow chest and gangly limbs that belong to not-quite-a-man but definitely-not-a-boy Loki; in their place are soft skin and gentle curves. Loki runs his hands over his body, pressing against his stomach. What would it feel like to carry a baby here? What would it feel like to give birth to one?

A clamor in the hallway announces Thor’s return from his hunt. Loki shifts hastily back to his male form; the locked door will only prompt Thor to try harder to get in and Loki has no desire to explain his strange behavior. His parents encourage his exploration of magic and his talent at shape-shifting, but even they might be taken aback to find that their son has become a daughter.

Once more presentable, Loki unlocks the door and goes out to hear his brother’s stories of glorious combat.